The Awakening: My Journey With 5-MeO-DMT

11 min readMay 10, 2020

“We have two lives, and the second one begins the moment we realize that we only have one.” — Confucius

When I was about three years old, I remember my mom tucking me into bed one night when the thought of death and dying first occurred to me. It hit me hard as I contemplated the gravity of ceasing to exist in my current form. I cried when I thought about it and had one of the most visceral bodily responses of terror I have ever experienced in my life. It is a response that has occurred throughout my life many times with the same level of intensity. Many, many nights over the following decades I couldn’t fall asleep — afraid that if I did I would never wake up. It got so bad on some nights when I thought about it that I would jump up on the bed and pinch myself or scratch my skin with my nails to feel something and distract me from the extreme existential angst that I was feeling. I remember watching a movie in high school with my girlfriend at the time and I had one of these attacks so bad that I actually ripped a piece of skin off of my face and was so embarrassed afterwards that I told her it was a pimple that I had popped.

There seemed to be nothing I could do to rid myself of this terror. I didn’t know how to express this to anyone so I kept it to myself. I played off my sleepless nights as insomnia and being a bad sleeper, but the real reason was that my mind was racing and contemplating the shock of what might happen if I closed my eyes and they never opened again.

In high school I started drinking and smoking pot, and to my great relief, they allowed me to fall asleep in a stupor — preventing my brain the ability to contemplate the repetitive thought loop of dying from my childhood. Around the same time I tried Ambien. Wow, what a wonder drug that was! Ambien was the most reliable sleep remedy I had encountered at the time. As an added bonus, if I fought to stay awake after taking it I would have some of the most intense hallucinations I had ever experienced (this includes all the psychedelics I’ve done). The laundry list of drugs that I could depend on to mitigate the feelings of terror began to grow as I got to college. With a rotation of options to choose from, worrying about sleep and death were no longer at the forefront of my every waking moment. Problem solved! Except that it wasn’t. Drugs have side effects. They changed who I was. I could no longer sleep without them. My insomnia got so bad at that point that if I didn’t take something, I’d end up staying up most of the night and then try to navigate the following day in a zombified stupor. It didn’t help that my sleep schedule started to become more erratic. I’d stay up on weekends and sleep in the afternoon or in class sometimes. Luckily in college, some of my semester schedules were so convenient that they were able to accommodate months of highly erratic bedtimes.

The Unlocking

When I turned thirty a lot started to shift for me. I stopped drinking alcohol, I had a better sleep schedule, and the existential panic attacks were fewer and farther between. But the deep-seated unrest was still there. If anything, I had created a very strong cognitive dissonance in my mind by being a very strong nihilist, yet deeply terrified of death and the concept of mortality.

Most of my psychedelic use at this time had been far more therapeutic than when I was younger. In times past, I would take LSD or mushrooms and put myself in situations where I would experience sensory overload or take risks, like driving long distances at night. Now I preferred doing psychedelics alone, and tried to limit the experiences I had at concerts or with too many people. It felt like things were changing, but a lot of that change was still happening at the periphery and the root (the angst) continued to persist. My ego was still getting the best of me and I was still deluding myself into thinking I was making more progress than I actually was. By chance, a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in awhile mentioned that some toad spirit guides were going to be in town and it happened to be in a two day period that squished between two international trips that I had. It seemed like fate that I must go and experience 5-MeO-DMT.

Up until that point I had done a decent amount of acid, mushrooms, and ketamine, and had dabbled in DMT, 4-AcO-DMT, and salvia. My 4-AcO-DMT experience had been terrifying. I still remember it vividly to this day. I was at a music festival and had snorted some of it in the bathroom. I came out and went back to the stage. About 20 minutes later, it started to hit me. Several times when I’ve tried new drugs in my life I’ve gotten this weird feeling that I “did it” this time and would never come down. This was one of those times. It hit me like a tsunami and obliterated my senses. My ears were hearing sound but they couldn’t make sense of what they were hearing. My eyes were seeing things but they could no longer discern what the objects in view were. I felt like a lifeless blob as I sat down with a friend trying to babysit me. Speech wasn’t an option. I didn’t know what words were. On some level, I wanted to die. Anything to make this moment end. I used to wear a watch at this time in my life and similar to the spinning top in the movie “Inception”, it became my point of reference whenever I was too far gone. If I could tell time, I told myself, then I would be okay and eventually I would sober up. Well, this was one of the few psychedelic experiences I’d had at that point where when I looked at my watch, all I saw was a blank face. No hands, no time. Fuck, I really did it this time. Eventually though, I did start to come down and had some serious hesitations about trying new drugs in the future.

Fast forward back to the present, and I’m sitting on a mattress on the floor with two spirit guides going through some breathing exercises before smoking 5-MeO-DMT. I had been pretty nervous in the 24 hours leading up to the experience. Even though 5-MeO-DMT and 4-AcO-DMT are very different in terms of effects, I couldn’t help but flash back to my 4-AcO-DMT experience. Thankfully, I had seen a good friend the night before and he helped talk me through the fear. He also said something that played an immense role in my 5-MeO-DMT journey. “Trust it and let go,” he told me. This advice was reiterated to me as one of my guides held the pipe to my lips. It was time. I started to inhale and kept inhaling until my lungs were full. I didn’t even have time to exhale before I left this world in what I can only describe as one of the most pure and beautiful moments of my life. It feels almost sacrilegious to attempt to articulate what this moment felt like. Time stopped, but unlike the terror when I did 4-AcO-DMT, there was only bliss. I had no body or mind. Just pure and formless consciousness, if ever that could be described. When I started to come back to this world, a wave of catharsis came over me and I began to cry like I’ve never cried before. This wasn’t just tears streaming down my face, it was my whole body moving and expressing itself — almost as if it was trying to reach deep within my soul and unleash the emotions that I had bottled up for so long. My eyes began to flicker in rhythm with my body, and when the movements began to subside, I opened my eyes to see that both my guides were also crying. The emotion in the room was palpable. Something inside me had been released, and another part of me had become alive.

I did this three times and when I came back to Earth the third time, I took a few minutes to regroup and thanked both of my guides. It felt like we had been through a journey that had navigated far beyond the universe and then some, and the gratitude that I felt for both of them was immense.

I’m Going Through Changes

The next day I had a flight and as I sat on the tarmac waiting to take off, I noticed something very different. Normally I’m very tense when the plane takes off and “put my affairs in order” as I take inventory of my life in anticipation of the plane crash that never comes. This was an ongoing ritual for most of my adult life. But on that day, I sat looking out the window and was at peace. Surely, I still didn’t want the plane to crash, but what was intense worrying going to do to change the outcome? That felt like a big shift.

Another shift for me was my dreams. I rarely remembered my dreams in the last few years of my life, and most of the ones I did remember were intense nightmares. When I went to sleep the night after my 5-MeO-DMT experience, I had a very vivid and pleasant dream. This pattern persisted for weeks before slowly tapering off to a lower threshold. My sleep quality also improved thanks in large part to finding a meditation practice that I’ve been able to adhere to. I attribute this adherence to my journey with the toad, because I had tried several times in the past few years to build a consistent meditation habit and would always fall off after a few weeks due to some disruption I couldn’t push through. Not this time. I’ve been consistent, and I’ve never slept this good in my life.

In the months that followed, my healing journey started to accelerate. Something that really angered me for most of my adult life was small children, especially babies. Every time I’d get on a plane and see that the seat next to me was occupied by a parent and a newborn, I would get really pissed off. “It’s not right that this selfish fucking mom and her baby get to pollute my silence with punctuated screams and crying” — I’d think to myself. I would even text friends about how I hoped the plane would crash. Real morbid shit. After my 5-MeO-DMT experience, I allowed myself to open up and delve deeper into this feeling to try to understand it more. Why did I hate babies? What I realized is that babies represent an unconditional bond of love with their parents and I couldn’t stomach that. The anger and fear inside of me rejected such a beautiful feeling from blossoming in my soul. Now that the cage had started to melted, I slowly began to embrace this emotion of love — and babies. I never wanted kids my whole life, and now I found myself wondering what it would be like to have a family, how it would feel to share love with a being so pure, innocent, and helpless, and what it would mean to bring life into this world. It’s a little scary to write that, but it’s what I feel.

Another big shift happened with my perception of dogs. I used to get really upset when dog owners would just let their dogs run amok and couldn’t understand why the owners would just assume that everybody liked dogs. Fuck them and their selfish ways. But there was something else to it too. Dog owners love their dogs. Some of them love their dogs more than they love their spouse or kids, and similar to my aversion to babies, this had everything to do with my rejection of love.

I also started to lose interest in some of the activities that had been staples in my life in the years before, and started to be more intentional with my time and who I spent it with. Even my girlfriend, who I’d been seeing for about 18 months at the time, commented on how it felt like she was with a different person. I was. Things were changing faster than I could’ve imagined and it’s only when I look back at my life that I’m able to discern this fact. It felt like I was finally getting to discover who I was, what I really wanted in my life, and what I had masked that with to keep it hidden.

The Journey Onwards

One thing I’ve struggled with for a long time is patience. After my 5-MeO-DMT experience, I still struggle with this, but I’m more aware of it and have been able to see my challenges with patience in a different light. I’ve discovered that there’s this weird paradox in how the more impatient I get, the less I get done, the less present I am, and all I end up doing is getting more and more frustrated by this feedback loop. It’s almost like my perceived scarcity of time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, when I embody patience, I find that I can tap into a flow state more, be more present, and ultimately accomplish more. It’s helped me to recognize the symptoms of these two mindsets and practice shifting away from the impatient one to slow down.

I haven’t really done that many psychedelics since my 5-MeO-DMT adventure, but the first time I did LSD again, I felt myself transported back to the realm of the toad. I had always thought that each psychedelic had it’s own properties in terms of differentiating the experience, but each time I’ve done a psychedelic since 5-MeO-DMT I’ve been able to tap back into the beautiful source that the toad showed me for the first time. I have also noticed a heightened sensitivity to these substances — going much further into the deepest recesses of my consciousness with as little as half of my normal dosages.

As for the existential fears, I look at death very differently now. As the opening quote says, I feel I’m on my second life. I’ve read, listened, and thought about how we only live once and die, but now I embody that in a way I never have before. I was pretty obsessed with transhumanism for most of my adult life and the idea of immortality, but my interest has faded in recent years as I’ve delved into the underpinnings of my thoughts. My philosophy now is best said by Seneca in the following quote:

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

That means everything to me. The tragedy is not that we can’t live forever, but that we would drag this mortal coil along the journey while never having lived at all.

If there’s a simple way for me to describe the transformation that 5-MeO-DMT has brought to me, it’s this idea of cultivating awareness. I feel more conscious and less a prisoner of my thoughts and actions. It’s certainly no panacea, and the transformation wouldn’t have been possible without the support of those around me who care and love me, or the recognition that the path requires continuous work in journeying into the self. I’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible. If anything the toad was a catalyst, and because of it, my second life has begun.